mardi, juin 11, 2024
Home World D-Day veteran Harold Terens, 100, marries in Normandy

D-Day veteran Harold Terens, 100, marries in Normandy

Afterward they waved to gathered spectators from an upstairs window, holding champagne flutes.

“To everybody’s good health,” Terens toasted. “And to peace in the world and the preservation of democracy all over the world and the end of the war in Ukraine and Gaza.”

This year’s anniversary is especially noteworthy because it may be the last major milestone featuring many of the veterans themselves. All are in the 90s or over 100, like Terens.

He spent that day working as a radio operator mechanic based in Yorkshire, northern England, communicating with 60 P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes flying over France — only half of which returned.

Twelve days later he traveled to Normandy in person to transport freshly freed American prisoners of war back to England, and pick up newly captured Germans.

Image: 100-Year-Old World War II Veteran Harold Terens Marries 96-Year-Old Jeanne Swerlin In Normandy, France
A large crowd turned out to see the happy couple.Win McNamee / Getty Images

Interest in his wedding was so great that it attracted a media gaggle four rows deep. Days beforehand, however, Terens gave his thoughts to NBC News in a telephone interview.

“My cup runneth over, I’m blessed, I am the luckiest guy in the whole world to be back here and I plan on coming next year and the year after,” he said. 

The battle eight decades ago was never far from his mind. He described the war as “hell” and the sight of dead bodies and remains littering the beaches as “one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in my life.”

A key, strategic town close to the coast, Carentan was the site of a major battle, depicted in the 2001 HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” four days after D-Day itself.

By holding the wedding here, Terens bookended a remarkable lifelong relationship with this part of the world. And he has not forgotten his compatriots who died here that day.

“I’m spiritual, and I came here to invite all those soldiers buried on Omaha Beach, 9,836 of them, to my wedding,” he told NBC News before the event. “I’d like them to attend in spirit. And I want them to know that they’re not forgotten.”

The mood at the ceremony was far from somber, however. 

“He’s the greatest kisser ever, you know?” Swerlin said, swooning while surrounded by TV cameras.

“All right! That’s it for now!” Terens said as he came up for air. To which she quickly quipped: “You mean there’s more later?”

Konstantin Shukhnov reported from Carentan, and Alexander Smith from London.

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